The magic circle: How income-security benefits are denied to the Palestinians of East Jerusalem

The guideline to begin processing claims even in the lack of documents is critical in the case of East Jerusalemites. While all Israeli citizens seeking an ISB must pass an...

The guideline to begin processing claims even in the lack of documents is critical in the case of East Jerusalemites. While all Israeli citizens seeking an ISB must pass an income test (proving that their income does not suffice for dignified sustenance) and an employment test (proving that they visit the EB and accept appropriate job offers), East Jerusalemites must undergo in addition a meticulous residency test, in which they are often required to produce numerous documents proving that they and their family members reside in the city. This demand harbors an implicit threat that if the documents are not deemed satisfactory, the claimant will be forced to leave Jerusalem. The threat often inhibits the needy from submitting claims, even when they are entitled to an ISB by all parameters.

The following two-part report provides detailed data on the failure of the NII and the EB to distribute ISBs to those most in need.

 

Part I. The social safety net in East Jerusalem is full of holes

The income-security stipend (ISB) at the center of this report involves providing a basic monthly amount with vocational rehabilitation for those who are able to enter the workforce. Acceptance depends on compliance with two strict tests: 1. The income test, in which the claimant proves to the NII, that his/her income does not suffice for dignified subsistence as defined by law; 2. the employment test, which requires that the claimant appear (usually once a week) at the local EB and accept any job fitting his/her physical condition. Only if no appropriate job can be found does the applicant receive the ISB.

The vast majority of those who turn to the WAC-MAAN office in East Jerusalem ask for assistance that will enable them to realize the right to an ISB.

Registry machines outside the Employment Bureau in East Jerusalem, a reporting day for women, October 2015

Registry machines outside the Employment Bureau in East Jerusalem, a reporting day for women, October 2015

 

 More poverty – less support

Registry machines outside the Employment Bureau in East Jerusalem, a reporting day for women, October 2015

According to the 2015 Annual Statistical Handbook of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, 76% of the Palestinian residents (70% of families), including 84% of the children, in East Jerusalem (EJ) live below the poverty line. On average their income is lower by 41.4% than the income criterion for the poverty line within Israel.[3] However, the percentage of EJ residents found eligible for ISBs is significantly lower than the average among the country’s total poor. In 2013, only 7% of the EJ residents below the poverty line received ISBs. Although the EJ poor are 13% of all the poor in Israel, and their poverty rates are the most extreme, only 2.7% of the NII’s ISB payments reach their hands.

By comparison with the above, in 2013 22% of the residents of Israel (11.6% of the families) lived below the poverty line. Their average income was 32.8% lower than poverty-line income, and 24.13% received ISBs (excluding the East Jerusalem data, 26.5% of Israel’s poor received them).

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